Black History Month Perspectives

Black History Month Perspectives

By Q2

21 Feb, 2024

In recognition of Black History Month in the U.S., we are highlighting thoughts from Q2 team members on what Black history means to them.

History – The Good, the Bad and the Beautiful


Beth-Anne Bygum
Chief Information Security Officer

Who is a key Black figure you admire, and why? My family members are all key figures that I admire and for whom I am grateful. “Uncle Van” Van B. Bruner was – and is – an inspiration that I continue to admire. Born in 1931, in Washington, D.C., Uncle Van was extremely determined to excel at everything from an early age. After graduating from Woodbury High School, he earned a track scholarship to the University of Michigan, where he was a two-time All American in the high hurdles. Van participated in the Summer Olympic trials in 1952 and 1956, and graduated with a degree in Commercial Art. He joined the United States Air Force where he trained to fly propeller-driven refueling planes. He helped keep American aircraft in the sky around the clock during the Cold War and rose to the rank of First Lieutenant. After graduating from Drexel University, Van founded an architecture firm and in time was named the second Black vice president of the American Institute of Architects (AIA).  

Why do I share his story? Van Bruner is my Black history. He was a first, when being a first could cost everything. He accomplished his dream through prayer and determination. He was always intentionally focused on integrity, because one’s word is their bond. I am honored and humbled to have been part of his history.

What does Black history mean to you? In an interview, actor Morgan Freeman once said, “Every day is Black History Day.” There is a power in hearing the stories of our past – learning how our ancestors, with unfailing drive, accomplished their goals, stayed focused and did not cave under pressure. The concept of achieving success against all opposing forces nurtures a sense of courage and steel determination. The tradition of telling stories of those who have come before us creates an anchor; an undeniable source of strength so that we pass knowledge along. Learning our stories are key contributors to the social norms that we celebrate today. These stories include that of Bass Reeves, the first Black deputy U.S. Marshal west of the Mississippi River. William H. Careny was attached to the 54th Infantry until 1863 and became the first Black Medal of Honor recipient. From the first United States Congress in 1789 until today, 162 African Americans served in Congress. History – the good, bad and beautiful – should always be read and celebrated.


Breaking Barriers and Setting Examples

Davette Black History Month

Davette Quinones
Executive Assistant, Corporate Infrastructure

Who is a key Black figure you admire, and why? I admire my grandmother, the late Mazie (Furgess) Isaac, and her 15 siblings. They are all graduates of Benedict College in Columbia, South Carolina. These ambitious individuals not only received their college degrees, they also had successful careers during a time of segregation and systemic barriers. Their accomplishments highlight their determination, resilience and the importance they placed on education.

In the face of adversity and discriminatory practices, pursuing education and achieving higher degrees was no easy task for Black individuals during that era. My grandmother and her siblings defied societal limitations, broke barriers and set an example of perseverance and achievement. It's important to remember and share their stories, as they contribute to the rich tapestry of Black history and highlight the strength, resilience and triumphs of individuals during challenging times. My admiration for my grandmother and her siblings is a wonderful way to honor their legacy and continue living out their values of perseverance and education.

What does Black History mean to you? Black History Month highlights the contributions made by Black individuals in various fields, such as science, arts, literature, politics, civil rights and more. By recognizing and celebrating these achievements, I hope to foster a sense of pride in the rich cultural heritage and the collective advancements made by the Black community.

At the same time, I acknowledge that there is still work to be done to achieve equality. Black History Month serves as a reminder of the ongoing fight against racism and discrimination. It prompts discussions, advocacy and collective efforts to address systemic barriers and strive for a more just and inclusive society.

How does Black history relate to the digital financial services industry? I am a proud member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority (AKA), an international service organization. AKA was founded on the campus of Howard University in Washington, D.C. in 1908, and is the oldest Greek-letter organization established by African American college-educated women. For Members Only Federal Credit Union is the first, Black-owned, woman-led, sorority-based, digital banking financial institution in the history of the United States.


Walking in Legacy


Kamri Williams
Application Support Analyst

Who is a key Black figure you admire, and why? There are so many people to choose from that I have admiration for, but the two women who raised me had the most impact. I was blessed to be raised by two strong Black women that have given me a lot to look up to. My mother and grandmother have truly shown me the meaning of humility and service. I strive every day to walk in their legacy. 

What does Black history mean to you? Black History invites us to examine the narratives of those who paved the way before us. Reflecting on their stories allows us to value our present, honor their sacrifices and successes, and prepare for an even brighter future. 

How does Black history relate to the digital financial services industry? Black History carries a legacy of financial inequalities. The digital financial services industry plays a big role in addressing these disparities. By providing accessible technology that fosters inclusion, it can promote Black entrepreneurship, wealth and investing, and increase financial literacy. 


Written by Q2